SteamVR Update Adds Mallorca, A New Photogrammetry Environment

The latest SteamVR update adds a new photogrammetry environment for users, captured in the village of Fornalutx in Mallorca.

Mallorca is an island located in the western Mediterranean sea, off the coast of Spain and part of the Balearic Islands. It’s home to an ancient village called Fornalutx and, as described in this post, Valve has processed a bunch of photogrammetric data to create a SteamVR home environment featuring a path running through the village.

steamvr home mallorca

The data was originally captured in October 2019, but it seems Valve employees only just got around to processing and converting it now. The scene is made up of over 640 photos, which were taken handheld with a Canon EOS 5D Mk IV using an EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM lens.

To process the photos into a photogrammetry scene and clean up the results, Valve used Reality Capture, Agisoft Metashape, Agisoft PhotoScan, Modo, Substance Painter and Photoshop.

steamvr home mallorca

You can subscribe to the Mallorca envionrment here on Steam. Valve encourages anyone with questions on capturing and processing a scene to post them in the comments section of the Workshop listing.

The update also brings a bunch of bug fixes for SteamVR, OpenXR and Windows Mixed Reality support. You can read the full list here.

In last month’s SteamVR hardware survey, Quest 2 reached 47.92% of VR headset usage on the platform, creeping its way toward 50%. The Valve Index, meanwhile, climbed slightly up to 15.35% while the Oculus Rift S continued to fall, now at just 11.07%.  You can read more about last month’s SteamVR hardware results here.

Ultrawings 2 Available Now For PC VR On Steam, Rift With Cross-Buy

Ultrawings 2 is now available for PC VR platforms, after launching first on Quest 2 in early February.

The game became available around a week ago on Steam for PC VR headsets, and launched yesterday on the Oculus Store for Rift. The latter version of the game also supports cross-buy with Quest, so owners on one platform will also get access to the other automatically.

Despite launching first on Quest, the team at Bit Planet Games ensured us that the PC VR version is not a scaled up version of the Quest 2 release. In fact, it’s the other way around. You can check out the PC VR launch trailer embedded above.

The developers say that the game should shine with the higher specifications on PC compared to standalone hardware, too.

The only caveats for now are that HOTAS support isn’t included for PC VR at launch (but it is coming soon) and multiplayer isn’t quite ready yet. Testing for the latter feature is ongoing, but you can access an early build that’s likely to have stability issues. If you want to access multiplayer on PC regardless, you can find the access code on the Ultrawings Discord server. Until multiplayer and HOTAS support are finished, the game will remain in early access on Steam.

In our review of the Quest 2 release, we called Ultrawings 2 “a super sequel you won’t want to miss”, awarding the game a rare Essential label. You can read the full review here.

Lindsey Stirling Music Pack Launches Today For Synth Riders

A new music pack is available today for Synth Riders, bringing five songs from the catalogue of violinist Lindsey Stirling.

Stirling is known for her choreographed violin videos, posted mainly to YouTube, which have steadily built her a following over the last two decades. The Synth Riders music pack will feature five paid DLC tracks from across Stirling’s career, with one including a unique visual experience as well.

The five tracks are ‘Underground’ (featuring the visual experience, inspired by the music video), ‘Shatter Me (feat. Lzzy Hale)’, ‘First Light’, ‘Mirage (feat. Raja Kumari)’ and ‘Shadows’. The pack is launching across all platforms, including Meta Quest, Steam, PSVR and Viveport. Songs cost $1.99 individually or you can pick them up as a bundle with a 20% discount for $7.99 total.

lindsey stirling synth riders

The release trailer for the pack, embedded above, also features Stirling herself, playing levels featuring her music.

The Stirling music pack is the latest in a string of new content for Synth Riders, which has seen an increasing amount of high-profile collaborations, such as the Muse pack last year. No doubt the Synth Riders team are aiming to remain competitive with Beat Saber, the king of high-profile rhythm game DLC collaborations. Late last month the game added a Fall Out Boy track.

The Lindsey Stirling music pack is available now for Synth Riders on all platforms. Are you going to be trying out the pack? Let us know in the comments below.

Levitation: Alyx Mod With 4-5 Hour Campaign Looks Amazing

An upcoming Half-Life: Alyx mod looks absolutely stunning in a new trailer, promising an engaging and spectacular short campaign set in the Alyx universe.

The mod, titled Half-Life: Alyx – Levitation, will be released in Q3 of this year on Steam Workshop, available for free for those who own the base game. According to the developer, the mod campaign will be roughly 4 to 5 hours in length.

As you can see in the trailer embedded above, the production quality looks absolutely fantastic. There’s appearances from Russell and G-Man, with new (or perhaps just reworked) voice lines, and the story will center around a levitating building in Sector X that two of Alyx’s friends go to investigate.

In terms of gameplay, it seems like a continuation of similar stuff found in Alyx’s main campaign — a mixture of action, exploration and shooting, with hopefully some puzzles chucked in for good measure too.

Half-Life: Alyx released in early 2020 and since then we’ve seen some incredible mods available through Steam Workshop. One of the most prominent ones is the Alyx Bioshock VR mod, Return to Rapture, which is spread over two parts, the most recent of which released last month. Other mods such as Gunman Contracts overhaul Alyx into something completely new — in this case, a mobster shooter.

You can view our list of the best Alyx mods as of last October here. It’s been a while since we hopped onto Steam Workshop, so keep an eye out for an update with more Alyx mods added to the list in the coming weeks.

Valve Index Usage Grew More Than Quest 2 On Steam In March

Valve Index usage grew more than Quest 2 in March on Steam.

Companies like Meta, Valve, & HTC don’t reveal hardware sales figures. The Steam Hardware Survey remains the most reliable indicator of PC VR’s adoption.

The survey is offered to a random sample of Steam’s userbase each month. If you choose to accept, it uploads your PC specifications along with SteamVR’s log of any headsets connected in the past month.

In March the percentage of SteamVR users using Valve Index increased from 14.43% to 15.09%. Since Quest 2 started appearing on the Hardware Survey, this has only happened once in September 2021. In August Index was launched in Australia and Quest 2 sales were paused for three weeks.

Still sold at $999 for the full kit, Index has now been on the market for almost three years. It still has best-in-class tracking and audio quality, but in recent years its 1600×1440 per eye resolution has been leapfrogged both on the high end by headsets like HTC’s Vive Pro 2 (2448×2448) and on the low end by Quest 2 (1832×1920).

In October Index overtook Oculus Rift S to become the second most actively used VR headset on Steam, a position it still holds.

In February Valve announced the intention to extend the Index lifespan by making replacement parts available through iFixit.

The overall percentage of Steam users with a VR headset stayed essentially the same, increasing ever so slightly from 2.12% to 2.13%.

Last month Valve revealed Steam’s monthly active userbase as 132 million, suggesting around 2.8 million SteamVR users in March.

Steam VR Users Grew By 11% In 2021 – Valve

Valve says it saw an 11% growth in new VR users on Steam in 2021.

The company noted as much in a Steam Year in Review post earlier this week. “Years ago, we made it a priority for SteamVR to be open and accessible, and worked to support as much hardware as we possibly could (even if it was made by our competitors in the space),” the post reads. “That strategy continues to reward end users and game developers. New VR users grew another 11% in 2021, with unique play sessions up 22%.”

As always, there are no actual hard numbers on exactly how many Steam users have a headset. The current Steam Hardware Survey does suggest that 2.12% of users are in VR, though.

The post also points out that Quest 2 made up more than a third of VR headsets used on Steam last year. But, as we reported earlier this week, the Steam Hardware Survey now indicates that nearly half of headsets used on the platform are Quest 2, and if you add in the original Quest the figure jumps to just over half.

Valve also notes that it didn’t release any new VR games of its own in 2021 following the release of Half-Life: Alyx in early 2020. There’s been a lot of speculation as to if the company will work on another VR game but, for now, the company is focused on the launch of its Steam Deck handheld PC. Still, recent hints from Gabe Newell and the team do suggest that work on Deck could one day lead to a standalone VR headset of its own.

 

Valve: New VR Users on Steam Grew by 11% in 2021, Unique Play Sessions Up 22%

New figures directly from Valve reveal the growth of VR users on Steam in 2021.

Shared by Valve this week, the Steam 2021 Year in Review gives us some fresh official stats about VR usage on the platform.

Valve says “new VR users grew another 11% in 2021,” with “unique [VR] play sessions up 22%.”

These are quite specific figures; we’ve reached out to Valve for clarity on exactly what they mean, but here’s out best understanding in the meantime:

  • ‘new VR users grew 11%’ – the total number of Steam users which used a VR headset for the first time in 2021, compared to the same figure in 2020
  • ‘unique play sessions grew 22%’ – the total number of times SteamVR was launched in 2021, compared to the same figure in 2020

Assuming we’ve got the correct interpretation of the stats, that means that more people are using VR more often on Steam in 2021 than in 2020.

In any given year that might not be particularly impressive; after all, one would hope that VR is growing year to year. However, it’s important to remember that Valve released Half-Life: Alyx in 2020, which brought a huge surge of VR usage on Steam in that year. It was such a success that Valve said the game single-handedly accounted for 39% of revenue growth among VR game sales in 2020. That VR usage on Steam in 2021 still saw growth despite lacking a blockbuster VR game release makes these numbers a bit more impressive.

Valve wasn’t shy about pointing out the success of Quest 2 on Steam—which appears to have driven much of the growth in VR on the platform in 2021—noting that “the newest major hardware release, the Oculus Quest 2, makes up more than a third of VR headsets on Steam,” (though the actual number is much closer to 50%!)

Additional stats revealed by Valve in its 2021 Year in Review post also give us a clearer picture of the actual number of VR headsets used on Steam each month—more on that below.

Monthly-connected VR Headsets on Steam

Each month Valve collects info from Steam users to determine some baseline statistics about what kind of hardware and software is used by the platform’s population, and to see how things are changing over time, including the use of VR headsets.

The data shared in the survey represents the number of headsets connected to Steam over a given month, so we call the resulting figure ‘monthly-connected headsets’ for clarity; it’s the closest official figure there is to ‘monthly active VR users’ on Steam, with the caveat that it only tells us how many VR headsets were connected, not how many were actually used.

While Valve’s data is a useful way see which headsets are most popular on Steam, the trend of monthly-connected headsets is obfuscated because the data is given exclusively as percentages relative to Steam’s population—which itself is an unstated and constantly fluctuating figure.

To demystify the data Road to VR maintains a model, based on the historical survey data along with official data points directly from Valve and Steam, which aims to correct for Steam’s changing population and estimate the actual count—not the percent—of headsets being used on Steam.

According to the latest data from Valve, VR headsets on Steam reached 2.12% of the Steam audience in February 2022. And thanks to new data from Valve’s 2021 Year in Review, we’ve been able to refine our model, giving us an estimate of 2.94 million monthly-connected headsets on Steam in February.

Prior to the additional data, we had estimated back in January 2022 that there 3.4 million monthly-connected headsets that month, though with the new data we’re refining that estimate down to 2.93 million (which makes February 2022 the highest month of VR headsets on Steam to date, by a small margin). We also refined some previous estimates in light of the new data and accordingly removed an exponential curve which was included on prior charts (as the R² value has dropped below 0.9).

Ultimately we can see that the holiday 2021 surge that culminated in January 2022 has lasted into February as well, a good sign that new users are sticking around. For now, anyway.

Share of VR Headsets on Steam

Quest 2 continues to gain ground among VR headsets used on Steam, though it slowed down a bit compared to the big stride it took in January. Quest 2 now makes up 47.09% (+1.07%) of monthly-connected VR headsets.

And even though Quest 1 dropped to 3.83% (−0.12%), the gains from Quest 2 mean that both Quest headsets combined now account for just over 50% of the headsets on Steam for the first time.

Another notable move among Oculus headsets in February was Rift S dropping to 12.14% (−0.96%); combined with the loss from Quest 1, this means that share of Meta headsets overall in February dropped ever so slightly to 67.16% (−0.09%).

Meanwhile other headset vendors like HTC and WMR dropped in share to 10.97% (−0.28%) and 4.68% (−0.31%) respectively, while Valve gained slightly, now at 14.43% (+0.07%).

The post Valve: New VR Users on Steam Grew by 11% in 2021, Unique Play Sessions Up 22% appeared first on Road to VR.

More Than 50% Of VR Headsets Used On Steam Are Quests

More than half of VR devices used on Steam are Meta Quest headsets.

That is according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey results. February’s update pushed Quest 2 to 47.09% of overall VR headset usage on the platform, growing over 1% from last month. Add to that the 3.83% share of usage the original Quest enjoys and both devices account for 50.92% of the headsets used on Steam.

Steam Hardware Suvery February 2022

Steam’s Hardware Survey is an opt-in service that collects a data from a selection of current Steam users. Given that it’s not the entire Steam userbase, we can’t be sure the results are a 100% accurate relection of the state of Steam VR usage, nor the overall performance of the VR market. But, given that none of these companies have ever really revealed official sales statistics for their headsets, it’s the best source of informaiton we have.

This is the first time the combined usage of Quest headsets has crossed this line but, with the rate Quest 2 grows each month, we’d fully expect the device to cross that threshold on its own later this year. Add to that the shares for the Rift S, original Rift and DK2 (yes that’s still a thing) and Meta headsets account for 67.18% of the VR headsets used on Steam. That’s actually a slight decrease from last month’s 67.27%.

Steam VR Market Share February 2022

Some of that loss can be attributed to small gains for other headsets. Valve’s Index bumped up slightly to 14.43% and is still the second most-used headset on the platform. HTC’s Vive Pro 2 also saw small growth, though all other Vive headsets fell too. Overall the share of Steam users that used a VR headset fell slightly from 2.14% to 2.12%.

With 2022 now well underway and no major new PC-based headsets releasing in the forseeable future, expect to see Quest 2 continue to gain ground in the Hardware Survey in the months to come.